Lipedema has been described as a painful, symmetrical, fat distribution disease of the extremities with a pronounced disproportion to the trunk. Hands and feet are typically spared, resulting in the development of the “cuff phenomenon.” The disease “lipedema”, known since 1940, when it was first described by Allen and Hines, is increasingly better understood. In particular, oedema is not significant in this fat distribution disorder of women’s arms and legs. This and other scientific findings are “work in progress” and part of the goal is also renaming the disease.
In addition to fat mass expansion with an increase in the circumference of the extremities due to hyperplasia of the adipocytes and hypertrophy of the subcutaneous fatty tissue itself with the typical change in body shape, i.e. the silhouette, the obligatory paraesthesia or numbness, sometimes presenting as pain even on discrete stimulation, and sometimes an increased tendency to haematoma in the affected areas are also considered to be characteristic leading symptoms. It affects almost exclusively women, with an estimated prevalence of up to 10%. The initial manifestation of this chronic, potentially progressive, disease often seems to be triggered during periods of hormonal changes such as puberty, after pregnancy or menopause, but hormonal contraceptives are not a recognised trigger. Obesity can be an independent second disease in women, coincident with lipedema, but this coincident disease does not promote lipedema.